What Causes a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Feb 20, 2012

Yeast infections are very common, and most women are likely to get a yeast infection at least once in their lifetimes. Yeast infections are caused by the fungus Candida albicans. It is often found in small amounts in various body parts such as the vagina, the mouth, the skin and the digestive tract. It does not normally cause inflammations or any diseases or symptoms.

There are several microorganisms that survive in the vagina. Most of these do not cause infections and in fact keep the population of each other in check. But sometimes when the number of these Candida albicans increases due to favourable conditions in the vaginal area, it can manifest as a yeast infection. This increase can occur because of several reasons. Sometimes, the normal, protective bacteria could become eradicated by antibiotics or by immunosuppressive drugs (that may have been taken to treat an infection). This causes the yeast to multiply and cause irritation in the lining of the vagina. This is called vaginitis.

Vaginal yeast infections can also occur after treatments like chemotherapy, which could cause injury to the inner vagina. Doctors have also found that women with weakened (or suppressed by some medication) immune systems are more likely to develop vaginal yeast infections than those women who have normal immunity. Diabetic women, pregnant women, and women who take oral contraceptives are also more likely to develop vaginal yeast infections.

It is important to note that if the condition reappears almost immediately after treatment, or it is a yeast infection that does not respond to any treatment, it could be an early sign that of possible HIV infection, and it is strongly recommended that you get yourself tested for it.

The symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection are abnormal vaginal discharge (this could be anything from watery to a think chunky white discharge), pain during sexual intercourse, pain during urination, redness and swelling of the vulva, and itching or burning in the labia and vagina. While medication for yeast infection is readily available and can be self administered, it is best to consult with your doctor before self medicating.


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